Book Review: Jonathan Little’s Excelling at No Limit Hold’ Em



Jonathan Little burst onto the poker scene thanks to some early tournament success during the Poker Boom, and quickly became one of online poker’s original prodigies. While many of his contemporaries have fallen by the wayside, Little has adapted and survived for over a decade in the tumultuous world of professional poker. In addition to still being a top tier tournament player, Little is now a top poker strategist/coach, as well as a prolific writer of poker strategy books.

His latest offering, which is his seventh print title published by D&B Publishing, is “Jonathan Little’s Excelling at No Limit Hold’ Em.” The book has a retail price of $39.95, but you can grab it for just over $20 on Amazon.

Despite being his thickest book to date, Excelling offered the two-time World Poker Tour Champion a bit of a writing reprieve, as Little was merely a contributor on this project, responsible for the introduction, Conclusion and two chapters.

D&B does its job well

On top of being lengthy, Excelling is a large book (roughly 10”x7” and over 2 lbs., making it quite a bit larger in dimension and weight than a standard sized poker book, but it’s also one of the better laid out poker books I’ve picked up, a testament to D&B Publishing.

Fortunately, D&B made Excelling very easy to skim through, as each chapter is demarcated by a black page containing an author pic and bio that sets it apart from the content pages.

Each chapter is also thumb-tabbed on the side, giving you a “guide on the side” for easy perusal.

All in all, from a publishing standpoint, Excelling at No Limit Hold’ Em is everything I’ve come to expect from a D&B  poker book. It has an easy to read font; it’s well spaced; has a solid cover and binding; and good graphics.

The content at a glance

The book contains contributions from 17 individuals. Some of Excelling’s contributors are veterans of the poker book game, while others are novices when it comes to the printed word.

In all, there are 16 chapters (each chapter is roughly 20-30 pages long, divided into three categories:

  1. Poker Strategy
  2. The Technical Game
  3. The Mental Game

From Chris Moneymaker’s “Lower Buy-In Tournament Strategies,” to Liv Boeree’s and Phil Hellmuth’s “Short Stack Strategies: Old School Versus New School,” to Jared Tendler’s “A Proven Strategy for Eliminating Tilt,” this book has a little something for everyone.

There is also an overview of the evolution of poker strategy since the dawn of the Poker Boom by Poker News’s Chad Holloway, and the book closes with a section on “Great Plays by Great Players” authored by Mike Sexton.

As I already noted, Excelling at No Limit Hold’ Em isn’t a thin book. It’s a nearly 500-page tome that covers a wide array of poker topics.

That being said, it doesn’t have to be consumed start to finish, as it doesn’t have an A-Z flow that requires learning concepts in Chapter 1 before moving on to Chapter 2. Excelling is more like a collection of essays, allowing the reader to skip around and read the chapters out of order at his or her leisure.

What you’ll get out of Excelling

Because of the way it’s broken down Excelling is an easy book to plow through despite its heft.

It also provides the reader with plenty of food for thought on a number of different poker topics and concepts, which makes it a great jumping off point for further research or conversations with other players.

Another benefit the collaborative book format has is Excelling will introduce the reader to multiple poker strategists and theoreticians.

Some readers may feel Bernard Lee’s writing style and thought processes speaks to them, while others may prefer the more technical approach of someone like Will Tipton. From there it’s simply a matter of a Google search to find more from each contributor you enjoyed, be it other books, articles, or perhaps video content they created for poker training sites.

Target audience

I was pleasantly surprised by the range of material presented in Excelling, as well as the multiple perspectives offered thanks to having 17 different writers.

In addition to the numerous topics, I found some were aimed at lower limit players while others were more nuanced and clearly written for more experienced players – the chapters penned by Will Tipton, Olivier Busquet, and Alex Fitzgerald come immediately to mind.

Because of this, I think Excelling will appeal to, and benefit, players of all stripes. It may be a little “light” on strategy for semi-professional and professional caliber players, but it’s an enjoyable book nonetheless.

Bottom line: Jonathan Little’s Excelling at No Limit Hold’ Em is solid book that you’ll likely find yourself revisiting from time to time.

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